Bookmarked: Educational Leadership Weekly (weekly)

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Take 5: Beginning Blogging Considerations

The Internet abounds with lists: Top 10 Sports Mishaps in 2012, The 5 People You’ll Meet at Walmart, 100 Reasons You’re Lazy, etc. I figured you deserved your own list for beginning blogging

If you’re ready to start thinking about blogging in your classroom, first consider how you view yourself as a blogger. The list below is not one of commandments, laws, or rules to blogging as a teacher, but they represent what I consider to be the core components of a successful teacher or class blog. Read them, consider them, write about them, and then rewrite them for yourself. Ultimately, you’ll end up composing your own list anyways, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

1. Take the Reins

The first step to using a blog in your classroom is for you to become a blogger yourself.

It’s really not rocket science! Photo by: digitalrob70

You have to learn it first, practice it first, and then do it with your students. This may seem obvious, but the real key to being an effective blog leader is to share your thinking process with students and then to model real participation through your comments.

2. Accept It, You are a Writer

Blogging is a chance to get kids to practice writing, to do continuous revision of that writing, and also to apply those practices to their thinking as well. Be ready to write a LOT. When your students see you putting your thoughts down on a daily basis, it will empower them to do the same. Some of the awe and fear surrounding writing will dissipate as you show them that writing is really just thinking.

Unhinge the idea of “writer”. Photo by: Maria Reyes-McDavis

3. Cultivate Comfort

Putting something out there–on the Web–can be scary for some, but very easy for others. The content you generate really has permanence, it will stay online until someone deletes it (even then, it’s not really gone). This is why you need to be careful to make each kid blogger comfortable putting their ideas, their words on screen. Start with low-stakes prompts meant to run them through the procedure of posting and commenting but not necessarily to get them thinking deeply. Once they can write about ice cream, KU versus MU, or their favorite book casually, then they are ready to tackle something bigger and broader.

Make the blog space comfortable. Photo by: katiesw1

4. Everyone Has a Voice Here

The beauty of Web 2.0 (the Collaborative Web versus the old Consumption Web) is that anyone can be a maker of content, anyone can share their thinking and engage an audience. Anyone can create an audience for that matter. It is our job as teachers to prepare students to navigate the Web responsibly and to understand that they have great power when online. If they don’t build good habits now when teachers prompt them, their next chance for prompting might come from a less friendly source. If we don’t know how to do it ourselves from experience, students won’t waste much time listening to us.

Blogging can teach kids they have a right to speak up, and that they have something to say! Photo by: HowardLake

5. Teach to Seek

The biggest skill you’re going to learn as a blogger is that of inquiry. You will become a curious explorer, an ardent searcher, and someone unsatisfied with “I don’t know how to do that”. These are precisely the skills kids will need to succeed when they graduate between 2013-2030. When all else fails, those who are persistent, effortful, and plugged in will be successful. When you come across a question about a piece of tech info you don’t know (yet), teach the kids that the learning process is a part of their lesson in blogging.

Show them what persistence looks like. Photo by: photologue_np

Digital Collaboration on Twitter

If you’re attending the Independence School District ELA+Tech Workshop, please click this questionnaire and fill it out at your convenience.

Todays Goals: By the end of this session, you will have a grasp of the basic concepts of what it means to tweet and participate in a digital discussion and you will have produced your own examples to prove it.

What is Twitter?

This is an oldie, but a goodie. What questions does this video make you want to raise about the possibilities of Twitter for teachers? “What am I doing” might be a valid social question to ask each other, but what kind of pedagogical and practical questions can we ask on Twitter to promote learning and prompt thinking?

Why Do I Care?

If you’re like I was at first, you’re thinking, “what good is this social media tool for teachers?”. You’ve seen it on the news for breaking questionable scandals, celebrity lunches, and generally not amounting to much. But, as with any free communication tool, the user community has a lot of control. Teachers have taken over Twitter since its inception and used it to connect great ideas to great people all over the globe.

Getting Started

Getting Connected

So, now we need to get connected to good educational conversations and find people to engage with. As teachers, it is our obligation to learn Twitter for ourselves before we try to work it into our classrooms. Making the leap from user to facilitator takes practice. Your next assignment, now that you’re signed up and have sent your first tweet, is to search for a hashtag (any string of letters or words with the # symbol in front, with no spaces). Click the picture or link below to get started.

See the discussion unfold

Tweets to @stevejmoore on the topic of using Twitter

Click here for the link to the #ISDtweets search.

When you use a hashtag (like #ISDtweets) you redirect the flow of information on all of Twitter and see only people who choose to engage with the information you are interested in. Hashtags are like links, but they are dynamic rather than static. It’s a link to a conversation rather than to a set reservoir of information. Think of them asmodern chatrooms with more power and purpose.

Reach Out

Find other teachers online using this comprehensive and categorized list of teachers on Twitter. There’s no wrong way to find people. The ones worth following are the people you can count on to add value to your feed.

Reasons to Tweet

  1. Find links to resources
  2. Follow authors
  3. Discuss a topic in a chat!/search/edchat
  4. Ask questions/get answers
  5. Generate content and build an audience
  6. Make social connections
  7. Broaden the power of an education conference!/search/%23iste12

Searching the Creative Commons

If you’re attending the Independence School District ELA+Tech Workshop, please click this questionnaire and fill it out at your convenience.

How to Find What You Need and Give Credit Where It’s Due

Photo by Danard Vincente

Finding the right content to fit your project’s needs can be a hassle, finding images and information that is free and easy to use is even harder, unless you know where to look. As teachers, we should be teaching students not only how to use the Web to find what they need, but to then give credit where its due and not use things inappropriately.

Copyright and usage laws can be pretty messy; they are always changing too (ever read those “terms of use” things when you install something?). So, we need to limit the risks we take when we look for content to put on our blogs–even though we aren’t trying to turn a profit. Odds are you can get away with a few sloppy practices when you aren’t running ads or making money, but let’s be prepared just in case.

The Creative Commons–A Brief Introduction

With millions and millions of images and bytes of uploaded content out there on the Web, you want to limit yourself only to things you can trace back to a source. This is smart for citations in scholarly work as well as ethical for giving credit to the original author. The Creative Commons is a non-profit organization which provides easy-to-use licensing for digital content creators. If you’re a photographer, a musician, or a writer, for example, you can use a CC license to let others who see your work online know what its okay to do with it.

For example, if you took a photo of your cat and posted it online like Kevin Dooley of Chandler, Arizona did, you may want to put certain restrictions on that photo (especially if taking pictures is your livelihood). He posted his photo to Flickr using a Creative Commons Attribution license, and requires that you simply attribute this picture to him. So, Kevin just wants to share his lovely cat with the world and get a tiny smidgin of credit. You can share, remix, or even make a buck off his cat photo, as long as you tell the world that its his.

Photo By Kevin Dooley

This photo was taken on April 20, 2012 in Village of Gila Springs, Chandler, AZ, US, using a Kowa Super 66.


Your Mission: Find Images That Speak to You
Now that you’ve got a bit of a handle on how and where to find a good image, let’s practice! Your assignment is to tell a story using three images. Your story can be about anything (who you are as a teacher, what your Summer plans are, favorite hobbies, etc.) as long as you use three images found on the Web. You’ll search the creative commons images to start, and locate pieces to tell your story from there.
  • Start Here:
  • Type in words describing what you’re looking for like “cat”
  • Click on the service you want to use (I strongly suggest starting with Flickr as I did in the example)
  • Find 3 images to tell a story with
  • Make sure you take all the information down about each one (author, license type, etc)
  • You can download them to your desktop, paste them into a Word document, or keep your three tabs open
Tell Your Story
Now that you have your three images lined up, its time to put them together into a blog post which tells your story.
  • Find “New Post” on your blog page and click it to proceed.
  • In the compose box, add your images one at a time, including the sources for each one.
  • Somewhere between each picture or at the beginning or end, include writing which describes why you chose the images you did. Be sure to explain the story you want them to tell.
  • Lastly, include the search terms you used to find each one and be ready to share about your process. Did you find what you were looking for? What surprised you about the search process?

Broadcasting Your Learning

Learning Made Mobile

If you’re attending the Independence School District ELA+Tech Workshop, please click this questionnaire and fill it out at your convenience. 

Today’s Goals: By the end of this workshop, you will have a grasp of the basic concepts of podcasting and vodcasting and have made an example of one type of product.

A Few Words on Web 2.0

The distinction between the “old Web” and “Web 2.0” is mainly that it has become much easier to be a content creator rather than just a consumer. Before the last decade or so, most people just went online to look at stuff, shop for stuff, and take in information. Now, people still do those things, but they also remake, remix, and repost the ideas of others with their own twists. These are actually higher-order skills that require a totally different kind of thinking. Today’s Web user integrates, breaks down and examines, and recreates what she sees.

The kind of mindset it takes to be an active participant in the Web 2.0 world is exactly the one we need to be cultivating in our classrooms. When we can repackage learning as something participatory and engaging rather than passive and rote, we set students up to make their learning mobile. Those who master the art of interleaving the physical and digital world can transport conversations, network their knowledge with people they’ve never met, and become truly reflective.

One of the most vibrant ways to start a journey into the Web 2.0 world is to record your experiences and then broadcast them over a network. The process of writing and speaking changes when you know you have an audience. Students produce a much different kind of effort when they have the chance to share with the world rather than just their classroom or school.

Podcasting and Vodcasting are two simple ways to share what you see and hear, what you have to say and how you have to say it, with the world. Below, you’re going to find out how to use the tools around you to do just that.

Podcasting with Cinch

Podcasting can be done in just a few clicks. Click Here to find out how I explained it in a previous blog post from the Missouri Educator Community.

Below is a slideshow of the procedures on the iPhone 4 apps for Cinch and YouTube uploading.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Vodcasting with YouTube

Here is an example I made using only my iPhone 4 and the built-in YouTube upload feature on the camera. Uploading to services like YouTube or Vimeo is fairly easy and the processes are usually very similar. Create an account, log in, upload your video, name it, and press “go”.

See several examples of generating digital products with one text: Three Digital Response Genres.

Your Mission

Choose either podcast or vodcast to practice and put together a short (30 second) piece which showcases a simple topic. Examples of our topic might be why you want to try using technology in school, why you love teaching, or what your ideal classroom would look like. Locate the tools you need to get your media recorded and put online and get broadcasting!
  • Choose audio or video
  • Locate your tools (or ask for help)
  • Think of a topic to say something about or a question to ask
  • Type out what you’re going to say (30 seconds would be about 175-250 words)
  • Record it!
  • Broadcast it!
  • Share it!